as a destination
Wine & Food Festival
Come for the sand between your toes and
the idyllic beaches, but stay for the food. At
the Cancún–Riviera Maya Wine & Food
Festival, held every March, you’re invited to a
culinary boot camp with seminars on mescal,
an agave spirit made only in Mexico; cooking
demonstrations, where the world’s best chefs
show you how to do everything from preparing homemade pasta to filleting fish; and, of
course, wine, which you must taste and study
in regard to terroir, and grape and food pair-ings. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this
spectacular foodie adventure is the intimate
access to superlative chefs. Past culinary sensations include Food Network personality
and master chef Aarón Sánchez and legendary Italian chef Massimo Bottura, whose
three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana
earned fifth place on William Reed Business
Media’s “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list.
Come to think of it, this isn’t a food festival. This is foodie heaven.
FORGET BASIC REFRIED beans and rice.
Modern Mexican cuisine demonstrates that
old stereotypes are just that: old.
Mexico has become the Italy of North
America, sprinkling spice and freshness at
resorts and food festivals. Its fare is no longer
an afterthought; it’s a destination.
COURTESY OF KARISMA HOTELS & RESORTS
open kitchen, where knives click and clack
and pots and pans thud and plop in a display
of kitchen theater.
Every night, in the Fuentes Culinary
Theatre, El Dorado Royale chefs perform
and guests watch them dicing, mixing and
flambéing the freshest possible ingredients;
there is even the occasional heated argument
between chef and manager. With cameras
covering every angle, the cooking drama
unfolds on big screens throughout the resort.
The food is the real star, though. If you order
fish, the contracted fisherman likely caught it
within the last couple of hours.
El Dorado Royale also presents educational Kendall-Jackson wine dinners every
month. It’s not just food; it’s entertainment.
El Dorado Royale,
a Spa Resort by Karisma
On the Yucatán Peninsula, between
Cancún and Playa del Carmen, El Dorado
Royale gracefully caresses the ocean. Small
waves crash on the sandy beaches, and gentle
breezes ease into the palm trees and slightly
ripple your fruity cocktail. These picturesque
resort scenes easily win your heart, but you
fall in love with El Dorado Royale’s huge
Royal Hideaway Playacar
Welcome to the Royal Hideaway Playacar
in Playa del Carmen, where the poolside fare
is better than that in most restaurants.
Seafood caught the same day is “cooked” in
citrus, not over heat, for Mexican seviches,
and spiced up with fresh chiles. If you’re a
vegan, Royal Hideaway executive chef
Eugenio Villafaña loves showing off his
kitchen’s attention to vegetable details.
Villafaña believes in serving sustainable,
locally raised food. It’s not uncommon for area
farmers to drop off fresh produce and have it
on diners’ tables within 15 minutes. The in-kitchen, state-of-the-art Chef’s Table, one of
Mexico’s most intimate dining experiences,
lets you experience private dining offered personally by Villafaña. Like most amazing meals,
this one begins with a chef meeting to personalize your 12-course dinner paired with top
wines chosen by the hotel’s sommelier.
Of course, you don’t have to go to a food
festival to experience Mexico’s amazing food
culture. Whether you’re enjoying the in-villa
dining at Villa La Estancia in Los Cabos,
Mexico, or tearing into a tamale at a beach-side bar, food in Mexico brings joy to your
taste buds. Who can say no to that?
Great food, great wine, great beaches.
Yeah, it’s a rough life. C
Cooking class at Bar Tucanes at El Dorado
Royale during the Jackson Family Wines
Culinary Series, by Karisma.
The Costco Connection
Costco Travel offers a variety of packages to
Mexico’s most popular beach destinations.
To view all of the offerings, click “Travel” at
Costco.com or call 1-877-849-2730.
International Gourmet Festival
Every November, cruise ships and
450,000 culinary fans converge on Puerto
Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit for the annual
International Gourmet Festival. This 10-day
celebration of the olfactory and taste buds
features 450 international chefs, from Anton
Mosimann of London’s Mosimann’s Club to
Mexican chef Patricia Quintana.
At the event’s kickoff party, you can make
a Champagne toast with your dining pals at
the new pier in Playa de los Muertos, an arm’s
reach from blue sky over blue waters. For the
farewell party, a dazzling fireworks show
awaits at Punta de Mita.
But really this festival is about dishes
such as the lightly pan-fried grouper
wrapped in a just-made corn tortilla and the
rosemary rib-eye paired with a rich Cabernet
Sauvignon. There will be tingles down your
JUNE 2013 The Costco Connection 83
Fred Minnick (
fredminnick.com) is the author
of Whiskey Women: How Women Distilled,
Marketed and Bootlegged Bourbon, Scotch &
Irish Whiskey (Potomac Books, 2013).